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Response to Katashi_itto (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 10:39 PM

108. I'm also glad this first step is being taken.

However (there's always someone to say that! ) I think some of these ideas can be done differently.

For example, instead of building the orbital power stations to fuel electric needs to people on Earth, I'd much rather see the technology of solar nanoantennae developed. Currently, the biggest problem is that these arrays produce an alternating current somewhere in the area of 30 trillion hertz! Until they manage to figure out how to step that down to direct current, it's unusable now. If they do figure out how to convert that energy, then we're looking at an efficiency that ranges from 80-92%. That's not a typo. Nor is this: it will work at night

Build the solar power stations for the rest of the space-based structures. Or, let's fully develop Polywell fusion, and forego large-scale solar arrays.

Now, there is one other big stumbling block to developing space as we'd all love to see done, and that's the level of radiation shielding needed. I don't know the specifications on this, but I am confident the technology will be developed to counter it. I would suspect nano-technology would play a big role in creating surfaces that either reflect or absorb the wavelengths, perhaps even in the manner of the nanoantenna above. Make the surface of your spacecraft or even your spacesuit absorb solar radiation and turn it into power. That might be a problem over the windows or face-plates, but I'm sure someone will think of something, and something that works.

That's all I can think of right now. I've been interested (and sometimes involved) in the speculation about this kind of thing, thanks to living in the area of the Johnson Space Center up to the mid-1990s. Space Week was a great chance to learn all about these ideas, as was knowing several of the "space artists" in the area (Pat Rawlings, Mark Bowman.) I happened to work for one of the engineering companies that researched many of these speculative ideas (and employed those two space artists) so I got to work on some of the drawings, too. Not a field I'm working in anymore, but it was fun while it lasted

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